According to reports in Polish media, legendary cycling coach Edward Borysewicz, known in the U.S. by his nickname “Eddie B,” has died at age 81 in Poland.
The news was reportedly broken on social media by Wacław Skarul, the former president of the Polish Cycling Association, who said that Borysewicz died from complications due to COVID-19.
“Another sad news – cycling coach Edward Borysewicz is dead. The harvest of the coronavirus is intimidating. RiP.” Skarul tweeted.
Borysewicz famously coached the U.S. Olympic cycling team from 1977 until 1987, and his coaching helped propel the careers of Greg LeMond, Andy Hampsten, Lance Armstrong, Rebecca Twigg, and other top American riders of the 1980s and 1990s. American cyclists vaulted onto the international stage under Borysewicz’s direction, and he led the U.S. team at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, where Americans took nine medals, four of them gold.
That success placed the U.S. on the international stage in road and track cycling for the coming decades. It also advanced the U.S. Cycling Federation, which eventually became USA Cycling.
A top junior racer in Poland, Borysewicz became a coach after his own career was cut short. He coached Polish riders to top results in the 1970s before agreeing to join the budding U.S. cycling federation. In his early years with the American federation, he led the development programs, which saw him coach the budding junior rider, Greg LeMond, at races in the U.S. and Europe.
In a 2017 interview with Pezcyclingnews, Borysewicz said that LeMond was the most gifted cyclist he ever worked with during his decades-long career.
“He was a diamond,” Borysewicz said in the interview. “If he hadn’t gotten shot, he would have won the Tour 10 more times, with no drugs. A diamond is indestructible; all you need to do is polish it. He was better than Lance.”
Borysewicz became a controversial figure in U.S. cycling after it emerged that some members of the U.S. team had undergone blood transfusions to boost their performance under the guidance of the U.S. federation. Transfusions were not prohibited at the time, and in 1985 the U.S. federation banned the transfusions, which the UCI also banned in 1986. Borysewicz said he did not have prior knowledge of the blood-boosting program.
“Everything we did was legal and was not illegal until 1986,” Borysewicz later said. “People were jealous and all they could do was criticize and talk as though what we did was not legal. It was legal, and they knew it, but only talked about it after we won so many medals.”
After resigning from the U.S. federation in 1987 Borysewicz launched his own team, which eventually became Montgomery-Bell, the precursor to the U.S. Postal Service team of Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel. He continued to coach amateur and elite racers up until his death.